Stats & Info: Mitch Talbot

The Closer: return of the Impaler

May, 26, 2010
Last season, Vladimir Guerrero played in 100 games for the Angels, hitting just 15 home runs. This past offseason Texas took a chance on the former MVP and it has paid dividends. After hitting 2 home runs Tuesday, Vlad is hitting .347 with 12 home runs through 45 games. We break down why Vlad the Impaler has been bigger in Texas in this edition of The Closer.

It's no secret that Vladimir Guerrero is historically one of baseball's best bad-ball hitters. An injury-plagued 2009 season clearly hindered Guerrero's ability to do what he does best. Now healthy again and playing in Texas, Guerrero is swinging more often at pitches out of the zone with improved results. He had only three home runs on pitches out of the zone in 2009, but has two already this season.

Why Ryan Dempster won:
- Put hitters away with two strikes: Dodgers hitters were 0-12 after the count got to two strikes.
- Had a season-low miss percentage of 19.1, but Inside Edge classified just one of the 20 pitches put in play against him as "well-hit".

Why Mitch Talbot won:
- Efficiency: 77 pitches in seven innings, including three innings of eight pitches or fewer. Talbot reached just one 2-0 count and no three-ball counts.
- Season-high strike pct of 74.0 and swing pct of 50.6. According to Inside Edge, 64.9 percent of Talbot's offerings were in the strike zone, also a season-high.

Why Jon Lester won:
- Dominated the inner third of the plate, registering six of his nine strikeouts on inside pitches.
- Lester got a season-high five strikeouts with his cutter, with the Rays putting just one of his 30 cutters in play.
- Four of Lester's strikeouts came on pitches down and in. All four of those pitches were chased out of the strike zone.

The Closer: For starters, a good day

May, 16, 2010
Pitching has enjoyed a renaissance in 2010 and Saturday was no exception. Effective - if not dominating - starting pitching performances were seen throughout the day. A good sampling occurred in the American League East as Tampa Bay's James Shields and Toronto's Ricky Romero were dominant in their teams' wins, Andy Pettitte continued his amazing season for the Yankees, while Baltimore's Brian Matusz and Boston's Jon Lester pitched deep into their games.

Here's a look at some of those efforts and several others from Saturday in Why They Won:

Why Rays starter James Shields deserved a win:
- Control. Not only did Shields not walk anybody, but he didn't go to a 3-ball count on any hitter.
- Changeup. Mariners hitters were only 1-10 (.100) against the pitch Saturday and Shields is holding batters to a .188 mark (12-64) vs. the change in 2010.
- Put them away. When he got 2 strikes on a hitter, they were just about done as 93 pct of such at-bats ended in outs (MLB average: 72 pct).

Why Yankees starter Andy Pettitte Won:
- More effective with the fastball. Coming into the game, batters were hitting .295 against Pettitte's heater. Saturday, the Twins were 1-11 (.091) against the fastball.
- Only allowed two hits over 6.1 innings pitched. Prior to 2010, the left-hander surrendered 1.05 H/IP. This season, he's only allowed 36 hits in 45.1 IP (0.79 H/IP).
- Finished off hitters. 82 percent of his 2-strike at-bats became outs (MLB average is 72).

Why Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero threw a shutout:
Used his power changeup:
- 29 of his 116 pitches (25 pct) were changeups, his most in a start this season
- Got eight of his 12 strikeouts with changeup (most in a start in his career)
- Hitters chased 71.4 pct of changeups out of the zone, most in a start in his career
- 11 swings-and-misses with his changeup, matching total from previous two starts
- Hitters went 0-for-13 against changeup

Why Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw Won:
Used his fastball:
- Threw fastballs on 85 of 110 pitches (77.3 pct, most in a start this season)
- Fastball averaged 94 MPH, up from 92.5 this season before Saturday
- Hitters went just 1-for-17 (.059 -- .238 against fastball entering the game)
- Got 5 of his 7 strikeouts with the heater (2nd straight start with 5 or more)
- K pct of 26.3 with fastball (highest in a start this season)

Why Reds starter Mike Leake Won:
- Down and away. Cardinals hitters were 0-7 on pitches "down and away" Saturday. Leake threw 38 of 93 pitches in that "spot" (a whopping 40.9 pct - since there are 9 "spots"). For the season, the rookie has thrown 40.5 pct of his pitches and has held the opposition to a .118 average there.
- Put them away. 83 pct of his 2-strike at-bats became outs (MLB average: 72 pct).
- Good starts. Retired 5 of his 6 leadoff hitters (83 pct) in innings. (MLB average: 68 pct).

Why Indians starter Mitch Talbot Won:
- Wouldn't let Orioles get started. Talbot retired all 8 leadoff hitters in innings (MLB average: 68 pct).
- The fastball. The O's were only 3-21 against the heater. Talbot threw fastballs on 86 of 102 pitches (84.3 pct). Prior to Saturday, he only used the pitch 72.7 pct of the time.
- Three and done. Half of Talbot's 8 frames were 1-2-3 innings (MLB average: 31 pct).

Why Giants starter Tim Lincecum was fortunate to win:
- First-batter problems. He only retired 3 of 8 leadoff hitters (MLB average is 68 pct).
- Control. Lincecum walked 5 over 8 innings and 31 pct of at-bats went to 3-ball counts (MLB average: 19 pct).
- More control. First-pitch strike pct was only 47 (lg avg.: 58) and his overall strike pct was only 56.
- He was facing the Astros. Houston is hitting a MLB-worst .227 this season. Lincecum is now 4-0 in his career vs. the Astros with a 1.33 ERA (best ERA vs. any NL foe).

1st pitch: A good start for young arms

May, 3, 2010
Today’s Trivia: Since 1990 there have been just eight rookies to win at least 15 games in a season. Only one team has produced more than one of those eight. Can you name the team and the pitchers? [hint: the years were 1992 and 1999]

Quick Hits: It’s been a good year so far for rookie pitchers, and three of the best are on the mound tonight – Jaime Garcia, Mitch Talbot and Mike Leake. Here’s a look at some fun facts on rookie pitchers this season:

* Cardinals rookie Jaime Garcia’s 1.04 ERA is the lowest ERA in April by a rookie starter since Tom Browning in 1985.
* Garcia has gotten ahead in the count 0-2 13 times this season and has yet to allow a base runner in any of those 13 situations. That’s tied with Carlos Marmol for the major-league lead in 0-2 counts without allowing a base runner.
* Indians rookie Mitch Talbot finished April with a 2.05 ERA. Over the past 50 seasons, the only Indians rookie with a lower ERA in the month of April (min. 20 IP) was Charles Nagy in 1991.
* Talbot has induced a double play in 31.6 of double-play situations this season (6 of 19). That percentage trails only Brad Penny among pitchers with at least 15 double-play situations.
* Opponents are batting just .245 against Mike Leake this season – on pace to be the lowest by a Reds rookie since Tom Browning (.245 in 1985).
* Brian Matusz has a 2.90 K/BB ratio this season - on pace for the second-best ratio by an Orioles rookie in the last 50 seasons (Josh Towers, 3.63 in 2001).

Today’s Leaderboard: Kevin Correia is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA this season, but Bud Black may want to consider pulling him earlier than usual tonight against the Rockies. Opponents are batting .409 against Correia the third time through the lineup – tied for the fourth-worst average in the majors this season.
Key Matchups: Adrian Gonzalez is batting just .190 in 21 career at bats against Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez. That’s Gonzalez’s 4th lowest average against a pitcher which he’s faced at least 20 times. The numbers are even worse when he faces Jimenez in Petco Park. Gonzales is just 1-10 against Jimenez in San Diego. The one hit was a home run in 2008.

Alex Rios has a .571 career batting average (12-21) against Gil Meche. That’s his highest batting average against a pitcher which he’s faced at least 20 times. Kenny Rogers and Jamie Moyer are the only others against whom he’s batting over .400.

Trivia Answer: Mariners. Dave Fleming (17-10 in 1992) and Freddy Garcia (17-8 in 1999) were the pitchers. The others on the list are CC Sabathia, Jason Jennings, Rodrigo Lopez, Jeriome Robertson, Justin Verlander and Daisuke Matsuzaka.